Pam learned to never say never
Comfortable in her life as a wife, mother, grandmother, and math and science teacher in grades seven through 12, Pam Wells lived in a small town in Grant County, N.D. for 29 years and maintained that she would never leave.
When her husband died of lung cancer, she said she would never marry again and certainly never, ever participate in an on-line dating site, even when her adoring daughter covertly signed her up. However, in the last year she has rediscovered her thirst for adventure and has happily eaten her words.
There is always one more butte to climb, and one more horizon to see.
In June 2011, she married Sid Wells and they moved into a 1930s era house on 30 acres near New Evarts with Remington, a German shorthaired pointer, Cola, a black Labrador mix, and Hunter, a 98-pound chocolate Lab.
In August, she began teaching chemistry and physical science at Mobridge-Pollock High School.
Sid is self-employed as a contractor, primarily in carpet and tile installation.
Pam and her two sisters and brother grew up on a wheat and sugar beet farm in the Red River Valley north of Grand Forks, N.D. She attended elementary school in Stephen, Minn. They lived on the farm until 1972, when the floods became too much, and moved to Drayton. N.D. She graduated from high school in Drayton, and received her bachelor’s degree from Mary College (University of Mary) at Bismarck.
“I have been told by family and friends that if teaching doesn’t work out, I could make a living at making pies,” Pam said.
“My mother was a fantastic cook. She was the ‘go-to’ person for any church supper event, weddings, community cook-offs, and my sisters and me,” she said. “Many wedding cakes were made at our house for family, friends, and friends of friends.”
While in high school, she helped her mom prepare and serve any catering she did.
“She read cookbooks like many people read Danielle Steele,” she said.
Pam likes to cook just about anything that you would find on a farm in the Dakotas. She doesn’t like a lot of spices, just enough to bring out the goodness of the rest of the ingredients.
They always have leftovers, she said, and with their busy lifestyle she tries to plan meals accordingly so that she can use them, creatively repurposing some of the meal. For example, she uses leftover oven-fried chicken to make enchiladas.
“Sid says they were good the first time around, they should be good the next day,” she said.
Her most memorable culinary catastrophe, she recalls, was in 1991, when she attempted to make buns from scratch.
“Bread dough has never been my forte,” she said. “I was asked by my family if the hockey league needed any hockey pucks and if I was to make them. Thank goodness for frozen bread dough!”
She and Sid hope to prepare a location for a garden this fall where she can grow many of her own vegetables. She has collected wildflowers to enhance many meals, including herbal tea from chamomile and rose hips.
“I have taken dandelion roots, roasted them, ground them, and tried them as coffee grounds,’” she said. “The beverage had a taste similar to coffee, but not as good. And of course, dandelion greens are always nice for a salad.”
Another wildflower that is tasty is milky weed buds just before they open.
“I blanche the buds and then gently toss them in a frying pan of bacon drippings until tender,” she said, “yum, yum!”
The leaves of scarlet mallow, another flower, have a slightly nutty taste to add to salads.
Her favorite activity is spending time with their large extended family. The children are: Robert Hintz, Meridian, Idaho; Steven and Donna Hintz, Mandan, N.D.; Shanna Shanahan, Selby; Jason and Michelle Trevillyan, Palmdale, Calif.; Brandon and Kayla Wells, Hosmer; and Lauren and Jonas Lynch, Mobridge.
“All of them have families of their own and come to visit whenever they can,” she said. “We have 12 grandchildren, and hopefully will be blessed with more.”
She loves to read many types of books, but her favorite authors are Janet Evanovich, Dan Brown, Nicholas Sparks, Ken Follett, Catherine Coulter, J.K. Rowling, Terry Brooks and the Peterson Handbooks.
Her many hobbies include flowers and yard work, sewing, crafting, reading, fishing, camping, and bird watching. She recently spied a blue heron.
Sid and she also enjoy motorcycling on their Harley Davidson.
“Sid drives,” she said, “and I ride!”
- Sandy Bond -
Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 lb. cooked skinless chicken breast
1 can Fiesta Nacho Soup
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 soup can of milk
1 can of Enchilada Sauce (mild, medium, or hot)
Crushed tortilla chips
Shredded Cheddar Cheese
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a kettle or crock pot. Bring to a boil over low heat. Serve hot and garnish with chips and cheese. (My husband likes this as a dip for his tortilla chips!)
2 lbs. ground venison
1 cup diced onions
2 (15 ½ oz.) cans pinto beans
1 (15 ½ oz.) can pink kidney beans
1 (15 ¼ oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
1 (14 ½ oz.) can Mexican-style stewed tomatoes
2 (14 ½ oz.) can diced tomatoes
1 (14 ½ oz.) can tomatoes with chilies
1 (4 ½ oz.) cans diced green chilies
1 (4.6-oz.) can black olives, drained and sliced, optional
1 (1 ¼ oz.) package taco seasoning mix
1 (1 oz.) package ranch salad dressing mix
Corn chips, for serving
Sour cream, for garnish
Grated cheese, for garnish
Chopped green onions, for garnish
Pickled jalapenos, for garnish
Brown the ground venison and onions in a large skillet; drain the excess fat, then transfer the browned venison and onions to a large slow cooker or a stockpot. Add the beans, corn, tomatoes, green chilies, black olives, taco seasoning, and ranch dressing mix, and cook in a slow cooker on low for 6 to 8 hours or simmer over low heat for about 1 hour in a pot on the stove. To serve, place a few corn chips in each bowl and ladle soup over them. Top with sour cream, cheese, green onions and jalapenos. This recipe is easily adjusted to suit anyone’s taste. I have used hominy with the corn to add more texture.
Whip until smooth in a mixer:
1 cup sugar
½ cup shortening
2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. soda
3 plus Tbsp. sour cream
3 ripe and mashed bananas
Bake in a greased loaf pan at 350°F for 50 minutes. I use 3 small loaf pans for this recipe.
3/4 cup oil
1 cup sugar
1 cup butter
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp. lemon flavoring
4 cups + 4 Tbsp. flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. soda
Make dough into balls and flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees F. I usually bake these cookies for 8 minutes, as I like the light color. These cookies have a light lemon flavor and are excellent with a cup of coffee! I have also tried different flavorings; any extract of your choice is good!